Revolving around a young FBI agent on her first case, this seamless fusion of thriller and police procedural is tonally comparable to Thomas Harris’ iconic The Silence of the Lambs.
Set largely in and around the breathtaking Bitterroot Mountains in Montana, the story begins with fledgling FBI agent Maria Hernandez investigating the murder of a girl whose corpse was found off a hiking trail in the mountains. The local sheriff’s main suspect is the man who found the body, Joseph Deerling, the editor of a local weekly news journal. Deerling has had numerous run-ins with the law, but Hernandez quickly realizes that Deerling is not the murderer. In fact, when it is reported that another teenage girl has gone missing in the same area, Deerling and Hernandez join forces to find the killer’s lair, which Deerling believes may be located in a virtually inaccessible area in the mountains. The collaboration pays off, and after a brief gunfight in which Hernandez is shot, the abductor is killed and the girl is saved. The media gets wind of the story, and soon, the heroic Hernandez has become “the new ‘Poster Child’ of the FBI.” But while she is in the hospital recovering, someone attempts to murder Deerling. The young FBI agent quickly realizes that finding and stopping the serial killer isn’t the end of the case but the very beginning. Although this novel is powered by a cast of credible characters, brisk pacing and an impressively intricate storyline, Hernandez’s penchant for soliloquies is slightly annoying; her romantic connection to Deerling also feels contrived. But Hernandez—like Harris’ Clarice Starling—is a deeply intriguing and endearing protagonist who, according to the author, will return in a future novel.
Murder, meth and mystery in Montana. In a word: marvelous.